The Righteousness of God … Required! Part Two Romans 2:17-3:20Romans - Just Right!
All written materials for this series will be posted on this website, http://servingandsharing.com/, under the category, “Romans – Just Right!”
All corresponding video presentations may be found on this YouTube playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7JRppjEn33aIrggv9opfecN4rksInQsM.
But … I am Religious! Rom 2:17-3:8
One of the most cherished beliefs among many people is this: religious people will go to heaven because they are religious. If they are sincere, pious, generous, sacrificial, prayerful, rigorous, and regular in their religious observance, they will ultimately be with God. Why? They are religious. Some may say: “It doesn’t matter what church you belong to, or even what religion you profess. The good people in all religions will go to heaven.” Or: “All religious people are going to heaven, just by different roads.”
The implication is that religious devotion somehow makes atonement for sin. That God will overlook the sins of all those who try to live by their religion and follow their religion’s rules in dealing with sin.
Is it good to be religious? Does religion, in and of itself, get God’s attention, or somehow obligate God? What about the Jews? Could their religion itself save them? Could they boast to God and others about their heritage, their possession of the Law, their understanding, or their performance? Ironically, they failed to live up to the very standards they professed! Recognizing that fact should drive them – and all “religious” people – to the only One who can make a relationship with God “just right” – Jesus the Christ.
Big issue in Romans – the Jews. God’s chosen people, set apart from the Gentiles. Nationality. Ethnic heritage. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David. The list goes on.
“We are children of Abraham!” Matt 3; John 8
So … does that carry any weight with God?
Note Jesus’ Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees: Matt 23:1-39.
“Religious” People May Be … Self-righteous. 2:17-20
Luke 18:9-11 Pharisee and tax collector pray.
Phil 3:1-14 Paul lists his Jewish “credentials.”
Matt 3:9 “We have Abraham as our father!”
Jer 7:3-4 “The temple of Yahweh” as a guarantee of God’s favor.
“Religious” People May Be … Hypocritical. 2:21-23
Matt 23:1-3 “They say but do not do.” Preach but not practice.
Matt 23:4 They add burdens but will not lift.
Matt 23:23 Tithe plants but neglect “majors.”
Mat 23:24 Strain a gnat but swallow a camel.
Acts 7:51-53 Stephen to the Sanhedrin.
“Religious” People May Be … Detrimental. 2:24
Sin defames God in the world’s eyes.
Is 52:5 “Now therefore, what do I have here,” declares the LORD, “seeing that My people have been taken away without cause?” Again the LORD declares, “Those who rule over them howl, and My name is continually blasphemed all day long.”
David’s sin gave Yahweh’s enemies occasion to blaspheme Him.
2 Sa 12:13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. 14 “However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.”
Tit 2:9-15 “Adorn the doctrine.”
“Religious” People May Be … Outside-In. 2:25-29
Circumcision becomes uncircumcision. How?
Imagine an uncircumcised Gentile condemning a circumcised Jew!
Deut 10:12-17; 30:6 Circumcise your hearts.
Jer 4:1-4; 9:25-26 Hearts, not just flesh.
Acts 7:51 Uncircumcised in heart and ears.
“Religious” People May Be … Privileged. 3:1-2
First, entrusted with the oracles of God.
Cf. Ro 9:4 [Jews] who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
“Religious” People May Be … Without Defense. 3:3-8
Passage quoted: Ps 51:1 Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. 4 Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.
Questions that will not excuse:
If some do not believe, is God really fair in condemning them?
If sin reveals God’s righteousness, doesn’t it make God look good?
If lying highlights God’s truthfulness, is it really all that bad?
If evil brings God glory in His judgment of evil, why isn’t that OK?
So, since Gentiles are lost in sin (1:18-2:16), and Jews are lost in sin (2:17-3:8), all are lost in sin!
Both Gentiles and Jews Are … Under sin. 3:9
The Jews’ advantage (3:1) … not preferential treatment.
Rom 3:22b-23 No distinction; all have sinned.
Both Gentiles and Jews Are … Confronted. 3:10-18
Shock! Words condemning the heathen are now applied to the Jews! Here are the passages quoted. You may want to go back and read them in their Old Testament context, too.
Ps 14:1 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. 2 The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.
Ps 53:1 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God,” They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice; There is no one who does good. 2 God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there is anyone who understands, Who seeks after God. 3 Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.
Ps 5:9 There is nothing reliable in what they say; Their inward part is destruction itself. Their throat is an open grave; They flatter with their tongue.
Ps 140:3 They sharpen their tongues as a serpent; Poison of a viper is under their lips. Selah.
Ps 10:7 His mouth is full of curses and deceit and oppression; Under his tongue is mischief and wickedness.
Is 59:7 Their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, Devastation and destruction are in their highways. 8 They do not know the way of peace, And there is no justice in their tracks; They have made their paths crooked, Whoever treads on them does not know peace.
Ps 36:1 Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes.
Both Gentiles and Jews Are … Accountable. 3:19-20
Before God, all the world must answer.
But before the Law, every mouth is closed.
By works of Law, no flesh is justified.
The Law exposes, diagnoses and condemns sin. It cannot cure sin.
“Religious” people have broken, and so they cannot rely on, the Law.
Is there another way, in fact, the only way?
Thankfully, yes! It’s the gospel!
Both Gentiles and Jews May Be and Must Be … Delivered by the Good News!